Best and worst of teams: self-directed work teams as an information systems development workforce strategy


For information systems departments, global competition and turbulent marketplaces translate into the need to develop, deliver, and support information systems more responsively, with higher quality, and with lower levels of IS staffing. In response to these needs, organizations often adopt a workforce strategy that includes the formation of autonomous, team-based organizations. These autonomous teams are referred to here as self-directed work teams (SDWTs). Little is known about SDWTs within knowledge work settings in general, or within the IS context specifically. Consequently, although forming team-based organizations is currently a popular workforce strategy for IS organizations, it is unclear whether forming SDWTs is prudent for IS organizations, and if so, what characteristics are required to insure SDWT success. The research presented here reports on a multi-method research project conducted within IS organizations involved in information systems development (ISD). Two case studies were carried out in conjunction with empirical survey research designed to gain insight into the effect that SDWTs have on the satisfaction levels of IS workers and ultimately on their performance in developing information systems. It is hoped that the ideographic perspective offered by the case studies will inform results obtained through the survey research and will yield an improved understanding of SDWTs as a potential workforce strategy for IS organizations now and in the future.

Publication Title

Proceedings of the ACM SIGCPR Conference

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